The Auto Trader expert verdict: ★★★★★ ★★★★★ 3.5
The i30 is an appealing car, especially if you value comfort. It’s also well-equipped, spacious, attractively priced and comes with the reassurance of a five-year/unlimited mileage, no-quibble warranty. However, some of the i30's rivals are higher quality and more fun to drive.
Reasons to buy
- Comfortable ride
- Economical engines
At a glance
- How good does it look? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's the interior like? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How practical is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- What's it like to drive? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How powerful is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much will it cost me? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How reliable is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How safe is it? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- How much equipment do I get? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
- Why buy? ★★★★★ ★★★★★
How good does it look?
You might notice one or two things about the i30 which resemble the Volkswagen Golf. All models come with alloy wheels, but adding the optional Visibility Pack adds dual LED headlights and boosts the alloy size to 17-inches.
The range starts with the S, which rides on 15-inch alloy wheels, and carries on through SE and SE Nav, which add 16-inch wheels. Premium and Premium SE models ride on 17-inch wheels.
The i30 N Line model features sportier styling, with the same front and rear bumper as the i30 N hot hatch. The N Line also has a twin exhaust, 18-inch alloy wheels and more performance-orientated Michelin Pilot PS4 tyres.
The i30 N is the top model, with performance to rival the likes of the Volkswagen Golf GTI. Read more about the i30 N hot hatch in our review.
What's the interior like?
The interior of the i30 is more functional than flashy, but that’s no bad thing. The materials used are mostly high-quality, apart from a few scratchy plastics lower down and on the doors. It might not be quite up to the same standard as the Volkswagen Golf or Audi A3, but it’s also better than other rivals.
The seats are comfortable, with plenty of adjustment. Electrically adjustable lumbar support comes as standard on everything above the entry-level S model. Visibility out of the front is good, making it easy to position the car, but there are quite thick pillars and a small screen at the back, so it’s bit harder to see when you’re looking over your shoulder.
The layout of the interior is simple. There are lots of big buttons around, which are easy to press while driving, and everything is well labelled.
You get a small 5.0-inch touchscreen in SE models, or an 8.0-inch screen on SE Nav trim and above. It looks better and is easy to use, although it doesn’t have the sharpest graphics out there. It comes with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, as well as a sat-nav.
How practical is it?
There’s a decent amount of room inside the i30 and it comfortably matches the vast majority of its rivals for interior space.
The transmission tunnel running down the centre of the car is low and flat, so foot space for those travelling in the middle rear seat is far less compromised than in many rivals. As is the norm in this class, the rear seats split fold 60/40 and when you fold the seats down they're nearly flat. With the seats back in place, the boot space is bigger than a VW Golf, but not quite as roomy as a Skoda Octavia.
While both the front door pockets, glovebox, and centre armrest bin are a decent size, there’s also a handy place in front of the gearshifter to store and charge your smartphone, if it supports inductive charging.
What's it like to drive?
The i30 is built for comfort, so you do get a bit of body lean around corners. However, it's got enough grip to keep drivers happy. The heavier the engine fitted to your i30, the slower its reactions, and this explains why the hefty diesel-engined car feels rather sluggish, while the lightweight 1.0-litre, three-cylinder car is the sweetest driving “regular” i30.
Get the i30 heading down a motorway, and the cushy suspension really comes into its own. Floating over bumps, it feels relaxed, securely planted and exceptionally comfortable. Unfortunately, it’s not as quiet as it is comfortable, and there is some road and wind noise at 70mph.
The i30 N Line has different suspension from the rest of the range, and some sporty bits taken from the i30 N, which results in a much more composed and enjoyable drive. If you’ve even the slightest interest in fun behind the wheel, this is the i30 to go for, with better body control through the bends and a general sharper demeanour.
How powerful is it?
The engine line-up starts with a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder, turbocharged petrol unit, which is also found in the i20 supermini. It’s only available with a six-speed manual gearbox, but it clearly stands out as the sweet point in the i30 range. It delivers willing, eager performance in everyday driving conditions. That said, if you regularly carry a couple of passengers, it can feel a wee bit short on puff, especially when climbing long inclines.
If this applies to you, you will be better served by the 1.4-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine (which is the only one that’s available in the N Line model). The larger engine pulls with much greater gusto and delivers plenty of mid-range pull. It does get a bit noisy towards the top end of the rev range, but when paired with the seven-speed automatic transmission, it’s very keen to quick-shift through the gears, so the engine never feels strained. This is all well and good for fuel consumption and noise reduction, but the gearbox can be caught out sometimes in general driving conditions. You’ll occasionally find yourself stuck in too high a gear with limited access to acceleration when trying to coax your way onto a roundabout.
There’s also a pair of 1.6-litre diesel engines available, developing either 110 horsepower or 136 horsepower. Both deliver steady-yet-sedate performance that’ll be perfectly adequate for most (although there’s little performance advantage to be had from choosing the more powerful version), and both stay quiet and smooth.
How much will it cost me?
The i30 is priced broadly the same as the Ford Focus, and a fraction more expensive than Vauxhall’s Astra, but some way cheaper than the more premium Volkswagen Golf. Using the 1.6-litre diesel engine model as an example, the i30 loses out to the Focus and Astra on fuel economy, but it’s less thirsty than the Golf.
Impressively cheap service, maintenance and repair costs should keep the costs down, and goes some way to compensate for disappointing resale values. Overall, over the first three years of ownership, you can expect the i30 to cost you much the same as the Ford or the Vauxhall.
How reliable is it?
Hyundai has an excellent reputation for reliability and robust construction, and came first in the 2018 JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study, which ranks the major manufacturers. We can see no reason why the i30 should stray from this excellent track record.
Five years of roadside assistance and vehicle health checks are included with the standard, fully transferable, unlimited-mileage warranty.
How safe is it?
The i30 was awarded a five-star Euro NCAP crash test score, and its safety elements include six airbags, hill-start assist and brake lights which flash during an emergency stop. The i30 also comes with autonomous emergency braking, driver attention alert and lane-keep assist as standard on all models, and has two Isofix child-seat mounting points in the back. A blind spot warning system and a rear cross traffic alert function are included on Premium and Premium SE models.
How much equipment do I get?
The i30 range starts with S trim (only available with the 1.0 T-GDi 120 engine), and it comes with 15-inch alloy wheels, LED daytime running lights, a DAB radio with USB and aux connections, Bluetooth, steering wheel controls and electric front and rear windows.
SE cars add 16-inch alloy wheels, front fog lamps, a 5.0-inch LCD touchscreen, rear parking assist, a rear view camera and a leather steering wheel.
If you can afford it, you’ll be better off with an SE Nav model, as it brings more connectivity and comfort thanks to an integrated satellite-navigation displayed on an 8.0-inch touchscreen, voice recognition, wireless phone charging and dual-zone climate control.
From this point on, it’s a case of how much you want to spend.
The i30 N Line and N Line + sit above the SE Nav model. N Line includes cloth-covered sports seats, black headlining and air conditioning. The N Line + includes heated leather and suede seats with electrical adjustment and dual zone climate control.
Premium trim includes 17-inch alloy wheels, electronic parking brake with auto hold function, privacy glass and heated front seats with faux-leather/cloth covering that are electronically adjustable. Top-end Premium SE adds a panoramic sunroof, leather seats and a heated steering wheel, but it’s very pricey.
The i30 is a decent all-rounder. Given the right road, it’s certainly comfortable and refined, so if all you do is run up and down motorways all day, you’ll have little to complain about. Go for a 1.0-litre manual car, and it’s undoubtedly a lot of car for the money, and the N Line model is an entertaining drive without the fuel bills of a proper hot hatch. It should also prove utterly painless to own, with little to worry about thanks to its comprehensive five-year warranty.